As it’s now 2017, and the project this site refers to will be launched in March this year, I resolve to update this blog with related news, progress, information and images.
My father died in 1992, and throughout my childhood and up until then, his maps and the evidence of the story of his POW printing press sat in a manilla envelope in a folder in a chest of drawers. The only visible evidence was one of the ceramic plates (with a crack in it) with the map drawn painstakingly in improvised inks in reverse framed alongside one of the maps printed from it.
In the two consecutive houses my parents lived in over 40 years, it was hanging rather modestly in a corridor or landing, and not given much prominence. He was a modest man.
Very occasionally he mentioned an incident or recalled someone from when he was “in the bag”, as he used to refer to prisoner of war camp, and even less occasionally opened the manilla folder and pulled the maps out, but I remember him doing so as a child, and they were part of his story for my sister and I.
When he died they came to me, and I gave a set to the British Library, but for the most part they remained in the manilla envelope with other information and documentation that I had subsequently put together in one place.
It has been an extraordinary little story of my own, one full of coincidences, enthusiasm and kindness, that has led to the production of this letterpress limited edition book and its facsimile edition; a story that has really opened my eyes and made me aware of the sheer imagination, resourcefulness and persistence under adverse conditions that he was able to muster, and, characteristically, mustered in order to benefit others for whom escape was their sole aim.
We never knew whether anyone made it home with the aid of these maps; maybe 70+ years on another story will emerge as a result of taking the maps from their dusty manilla envelope and presenting them to the world in a way that would have delighted my father.